The big unknown – the large number of polling respondents saying they don’t know

April 27th, 2015


CON 6% lead in latest Ashcroft national poll while in new seat polls UKIP continues to struggle

April 27th, 2015


ICM have 3% CON lead while Populus have a 3% LAB one. In Scotland TNS has SNP 32% ahead

April 27th, 2015

It’s almost no change with Populus

TNS has SNP with 32% lead in Scotland


This could have been the moment when Boris lost the next CON leadership contest

April 27th, 2015

Being able to confront Ed was an opportunity that he fluffed

For me one of the best bits of TV during the campaign was at the end of yesterday’s Andrew Marr show when the programme’s two main participants traditionally join each other on the sofa for the closing couple of minutes. This time it was Boris and Ed and the wide judgement was that the Mayor lost.

This is how Nick Robinson saw it.

The timing is important because we could be only a couple of weeks away from a Conservative leadership contest even if the Tories do win most seats. It is hard to see Cameron staying if he ceases to be PM and there are those saying, unfairly in my view, that he should stand aside anyway if his party fails again to win an overall majority.

A Conservative contest involves two very distinct phases. Firstly the Parliamentary Party has a series of elections to decide which two candidates should be put to the party membership in a postal ballot.

The history of these contests is such that odds on favourites, like Michael Portillo in 2001, don’t even make it to the final cut. Then it will be recalled that Portillo failed by two votes to make the top two in the MPs ballot which left IDS and Ken Clarke being the ones left to fight it out in the membership vote.

Boris Johnson has not been an MP since 2008 which means that in the likely post general election parliamentary party many won’t really know him – a fact that might hamper efforts in the first phase. There has always been a risk that he could suffer a fate similar to Portillo.

If it does come to a contest you can bet that the mayor’s detractors will be using the above clip to undermine him. Methinks Boris would struggle to win a 2015 contest.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The Deputy PM after the election betting

April 26th, 2015

Paddy Power DPM

Paddy Power have put up a market on who will be the Deputy Prime Minister after the General Election.

Given the recent pronouncements of Nick Clegg ruling out the Lib Dems joining a Lab/SNP coalition and Vince Cable saying he could stomach another coalition with the Tories (though he would like George Osborne’s job) it might not be wise to back them, particularly based on projections/forecasts the numbers for a Con/Lib Dem coalition don’t look possible.

Tim Farron might be worth backing, on current polling, Nick Clegg is on course to lose his seat, and there might be vacancy for Lib Dem leader in twelve days time, as Tim Farron is favourite to succeed Clegg, he is perceived to be more left wing than Nick Clegg, and he hasn’t ruled out a coalition with Labour in the way Nick Clegg has.

Harriet Harman may also worth be backing, she’s Labour’s Deputy Leader, although Gordon Brown didn’t make her Deputy Prime Minister, Ed Miliband might just. The Shadow Cabinet is on course to lose two members, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and the Shadow Scotland Secretary if the Nats realise their polling potential, so Ed might have more room for patronage.

I’m ruling out any SNP person becoming Deputy Prime Minister, because I don’t think Ed would offer them the position, based on his comments this morning, nor would the SNP formally join his government were he to offer.



Shy Kippers might be a problem for pollsters like shy Tories were in the 90s

April 26th, 2015

Could the (phone) pollsters be underestimating the UKIP support?

Meet the Shy Kippers

Shy isn’t the first adjective I’d normally associate with UKIP supporters, but ever since David Cameron’s (in)famous comment about UKIP being a bunch of  “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly” there’s been a perception that UKIP are the BNP in blazers.

But look at the above chart from YouGov, it might be indicative that some Kippers are shy about admitting who they really support. We’ve seen polling that shows, UKIP are considered by the voters, to be the most extreme party, with the candidates likeliest to have racist/extreme views, and a plurality of voters seeing UKIP as racist and what  seems a regular offerings of UKIP candidates, members and activists resigning for acting in a manner that fits with David Cameron’s maxim about UKIP, so you can see why they might be embarrassed to admit their true leanings.

Generally throughout this parliament, the phone pollsters have given UKIP a lower share of the vote than online pollsters, as the below chart of the most recent UKIP share of the vote with the pollsters shows.

If people are embarrassed in telling their friends and family they plan to vote UKIP, then they might embarrased when asked by a phone pollster for their voting intention and say their voting intention is for someone other than UKIP.

Online polling does give the voter an extra layer of anonymity, given that constituency polling is done exclusively by phone, this could mean UKIP are being understated, something that might be crucial when looking at the polling in UKIP’s target seats as it appears “Shy Kippers” doesn’t cause epistemological problems, Shy Kippers could be a modern day polling problem in the same way “Shy Tories” were in the 90s.


Meanwhile more grim news for Labour in Scotland


The first of tonight’s three polls has the Tories still ahead but their lead falls from four to one

April 25th, 2015

The fieldwork was Tuesday to Friday inclusive.

Tonight I’m expecting Survation and YouGov polls as well, this thread will be updated as they come in.


Update – Marf’s take on Dave’s West Ham Gaffe



David Herdson asks: Where’s Cleggy?

April 25th, 2015

Solving the riddle of the election’s missing man

Two Kings and a Joker is the hand the media traditionally aims to deal the public in their coverage of general elections. They don’t always manage to do so as it depends on the real-life characters available but the battle for No 10 is usually best told as a contest between two big parties with a wild-card element thrown in.

That wild-card has usually been the Lib Dems, or the Liberal-SDP alliance before them. Would they ‘break the mould’, or at least make substantial gains, and if so, at the expense of who? Several times it looked as if they might; usually they didn’t. Most spectacularly, Nick Clegg’s party led several of the campaign-period polls in 2010 following his success in the first debate only to wind up with fewer seats than they’d started off with once the voting had taken place. But that’s to get ahead of ourselves: the point is that the Lib Dems’ progress was a central part of the coverage of that campaign. By contrast, this year, both Clegg and the wider Lib Dem team are notable only by their absence.

The reason is simple enough: there’s a different Joker. For a long time it looked as if Nigel Farage was being set up for the role. The election of several hundred UKIP councillors in 2013/14, their victory in the European elections and the two MPs defecting to them – consolidated in by-election wins – all pushed UKIP to polling scores regularly in the higher teens and sometimes into the twenties, scores which would have seen them make further Westminster gains if realised on May 7. Since the New Year, however, UKIP has gone backwards and now looks at least as likely to make net losses as net gains. No story there then even if, as is still probable, they finish third in the popular vote.

Instead, of course, it is the SNP which has produced the Joker and to which the media (and rival parties) have turned their attention – with good reason. Virtually every poll since the referendum has pointed to the kind of landslide swing in voting intention for Westminster that the SNP has already achieved at Holyrood. There’s a strong probability that they’ll have the third-most MPs after the election and will not only sweep Scottish Labour from the pre-eminence they’ve enjoyed at UK general elections since the 1960s but reduce them to a taxi-cab of a delegation. It’s the kind of dramatic story that none of the other potential Jokers – nor the Tories or Labour for that matter – have been able to deliver.

Sturgeon gate-crashing the party hasn’t changed the Two Kings and a Joker formula though, with the result that the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens have received only perfunctory coverage. Nick Clegg might have been granted the occasional TV appearance but the Lib Dems still have five other cabinet ministers: when was the last time you saw or heard from any one of them?

Does that matter? Apart from the question of lost deposits, you might think not. After all, the seats they’re really interested in are those they hold and those they think they can win; constituencies where they’ll already have a very strong ground game. Considering that Cleggmania didn’t help them particularly in those sort of constituencies in 2010 the reverse ought to hold true this time: a collapse in national support among those who have little direct contact with the party will not necessarily feed through to places where the party is strongly established – or at least, not to the same extent. On the other hand, the lack of any national media presence or policy impact has reduced their candidates to effectively a collective of independents.

A more pertinent effect will be the indirect one on the Con/Lab battles. With no means of attracting them back, the dissipation of the 2010 Lib Dem vote is now hard-wired into the voting patterns in those constituencies. In effect, Sturgeon might be causing Labour havoc north of the border but she’s done them a favour south of it.

David Herdson

p.s. One factor not being sufficiently taken into account in considering what might affect voting during the remainder of the campaign is the royal birth. Reports suggest that this will very probably happen before polling day and if so will be the lead story for two or three days. Obviously campaigning will continue but for those swing voters, particularly those whose involvement in politics extends to casting a vote only once every five years, a lot will have their own attention distracted and all will see far less that might make them change their minds.